Norms in Law and Society: Towards a Definition of the Socio-Legal Concept of Norms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


The aim of this paper is to present a model for creating a more coherent concept, designed to meet the demands of the multidisciplinary field of Sociology of Law. This model is built on an ontological analysis that can incorporate different perspectives. The suggested analysis is mainly founded on the Aristotelian concepts of ‘essence’ and ‘accident.’ Thus, the method is concerned with distinguishing between norms’ ‘essential’ attributes that lie in their (the norms’) nature, (together they form the general definition of the socio-legal concept of norms); and other ‘accidental’ attributes that are characteristic within certain groups of norms (for example social and legal). The socio-legal concept of norms, presented here, acknowledges three essential attributes that define the nature of norms. The first two are relating to the dual ontological existence/shape of norms and the third to the importance of acknowledging the behavioural dimension. Hence, all types of norms (for example, social, legal, etc.) have two ontological attributes and one behavioural. Accordingly, norms are: (a) imperatives; (b) social facts; and (c) beliefs.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law and Society


  • Muzafer Sherif, law, social norms, law and society, sociology of law, Émile Durkheim, Hans Kelsen, legal pluralism, theory
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial and Legal Norms
EditorsMatthias Baier
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

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